The Navajo Wedding Vase
The Navajo people (who call themselves DinŽ or Dineh) have known the art of making clay pottery for many generations. The traditional wedding vase is one of the more popular. Coarse clay is dug from local riverbeds then mixed with other types of rock such as volcanic rock and Anasazi chips. It is then cleaned and ground up, coiled, and shaped by hand. After the pot has been formed, it is smoothed out on the outer surface by using a smooth rock. Then a design is added to the exterior, if any. Most of the dried pottery is fired in an open, wood and sheep manure fire, resulting in “fire clouds” on the pottery’s surface. When finished firing, an application of Pinion pitch is added. This water proofs the pot and adds a soft luster and wonderful aroma.
A week or two before the wedding, the future husband’s parents make the wedding vase. When the vase has been made, the husband, his parents, and all his relatives go to the bride’s house. Blessed water is poured into the wedding vase. The bride drinks from one opening of the vase, turns it around clockwise, and gives it to the groom who then drinks from the opposite side of the vase. They both cleanse each others hands with the remaining water. This ceremony unites them in eternal love and a happy, successful, stable marriage. The couple will treasure the vase through out their married life. The wedding vase should always be protected. It should never be broken or destroyed.